Welcome to “This Is Totally Your Year,” our overly optimistic preview of the 2014-15 NFL season for all 32 teams. We’ve broken down why every team — yes, even your team (and yes, even your team, Rams fans) — will win it all this year. We’ll also give some reasons for pessimism and even estimate an actual season prediction. Next up: The Pittsburgh Steelers, also known as the Stillers.
The Steelers are the best team in modern NFL history. Since the merger, they’ve got the best record, the most Super Bowls and the fewest coaches (just three in 45 years). They’re consistent, too; always in the conversation, always making noise.
So, we were surprised when things got a little weird last year — a year that most expected to be a bounce-backer for the Steelers, because the Steelers always bounce back. I don’t mean that casually: Twice in the last decade, they’ve gone from .500-or-worse one year to playoffs the next. I mean, I expected the team to go 7-9 (they ended up 8-8), but I’m pretty smart (note: I also said the Giants would go 10-6, so, fuck me).
Look: It’s a new year. And the Steelers ended last year on a really good note. But forget about last year, because like I said, this is a new year. Just try to retain the vibes from the last four games of last season — those winning, winning vibes. You’re gonna love the Steelers this season, and here’s why.
Ben “Fucking” Roethlisberger
Never has the nickname “fucking” been so appropriate. Big Fuck Ben (for short) continues to fly under the radar as a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback who plays a bit like Johnny Manziel, if Johnny Manziel was built like a truck. He’s quick on his feet, loves to extend plays well beyond their expiration date and can heave the ball downfield with the best of them. Like I said last year: “Honestly, as long as that guy is scrambling around the backfield breaking tackles, this team has a chance to beat anybody.” He’s probably the best QB from the 2004 class, which is saying something considering that draft gave us J.P. Losman.
The defense isn’t old anymore
Sure, it’s still got that veteran flavor thanks to Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu, who returns to a more natural position at safety after spending a year dropping down like a linebacker constantly. But rookie Ryan Shazier is already turning heads, and he’s joining what looks like a dangerous linebacking unit led by Jason Worilds. The defensive line is re-tooled. The Steelers, under Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau, are supposed to be a shut-down defensive team. They’re supposed to stop you on 3rd-and-1 at their own 2-yard-line in the freezing sleet. That’s just their thing. And it looks like they’re back to that level.
What is this division, really?
It’s really the AFC North. But what is it REALLY? It’s a collection of teams that play in close proximity. But what does that mean? It’s Cincinnati, Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. There’s only one team from this region that I would feel good about sending to the playoffs this year, and that team is the Cavaliers. Okay, fine, and the Steelers.
The Bengals are clearly the most talented, but they lost their offensive and defensive coordinators this off-season, and you don’t actually think Andy Dalton is going to lead this team to Super Bowl, do you? Poor guy. You see this guy? This guy thinks Andy Dalton is the guy. Poor guy. I like Marvin Lewis but Marvin Lewis is also not the guy. Marvin is the guy that loses in the first round. Marty Schottenheimer feels your pain.
The Ravens pay Joe Flacco a billion dollars over the next four years, have the lovable Ray Rice as their lead tailback and apparently other guys play defense for them but they’re not named Ed Reed or Ray Lewis so who knows?
The Steelers have the best shot. And once they get rolling, nothing stops them. If you don’t believe me, go back up to the first paragraph and read this again, and if you still don’t believe me, I got nothing left to say to you, smart ass.
Reason for pessimism: On the other hand, maybe the AFC North is Bazooka Joe tough. It’ll be hard to score points since their offense is basically nothing outside Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. They signed Darius Heyward-Bey who, relative to his peers in the NFL, is not good. I’m sure he’s a great guy and everything, but in the NFL, not good. Basically, this team could need another year of seasoning. Let the Bengals run out of steam a little bit and then make a move.
Actual season prediction: 10-6, first in the AFC North. I like these guys.
Photo via Getty